Getting a PADI certificate and diving some of the world’s most beautiful – and sometimes scary – seascapes is one of the all time great bucket list items for any backpacker. But where do you go? Checkout my top 5 list of the world’s best diving locations.
Perhaps one of the world’s premier dive locations, Sipadan sits in the Sulu Sea just off the coast of Sabah in Borneo and has some awesome dive schools that will let you get your PADI certificate or explore this true area of outstanding natural beauty.
Sipadan boasts some of the world’s most stunning natural landscapes and an absolute abundance of marine life, and if you can pull yourself away from the picture postcard perfect landscapes, you can spend your time floating amongst one of the worlds largest populations of green and hawksbill turtles, as well as reef sharks, mandarin fish and countless other species.
It is regularly featured as one of the worlds top diving destinations, especially the famous Barracuda Point, yet despite this it is still relatively undiscovered by the mainstream package tour holidaymakers and is never too crowded, and with its proximity to other backpacker hotspots such as Kota Kinabalu, Sipadan is a backpackers paradise.
Koh Tao, Thailand.
This tiny unassuming little island in the Gulf of Thailand is well known in backpacker circles as the place to get your PADI certificate, and most backpackers who achieved their PADI qualified status in south east asia more than likely got it here, including myself.
The combination of laid back island life, the abundance of cheap dive schools and equipment rental shops, not to mention the crystal clear waters and choice of reefs and wrecks to explore makes Koh Tao a perfect drivers paradise.
Bloody Bay Wall, Cayman Islands.
Whilst not as visually stunning or as biodiverse as other places on this list, the wildlife in this relatively shallow Caribbean reef is still worth donning your mask and tank for, but divers don’t come here to see the sea life. They come for an entirely different experience altogether.
Swimming to the edge of the reef, you are greeted with a dizzyingly sudden drop off into a black abyss, a 2000 metre vertical drop that gives you the closest feeling of flying like Superman that you will ever get, and this feeling alone makes visiting these islands worthwhile.
No list of the ultimate dive sites in the world would be complete without mentioning the world class diving of the Red Sea.
But instead of heading to the overpopulated, over dived and disgustingly touristy resorts of Sharm El Sheik and the Sinai coast, hop over to Aquaba in Jordan instead.
Aquaba is perhaps one of the least commercial and populated spots in the region. It has one of the least damaged structures of coral reef and still has the warm crystal clear waters to enjoy your time with the abundance of marine life.
Tubbataha Reef, the Philippines.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is only accessible via a small number of liveaboard operations, and as a result is very isolated.
This means however that you are not surrounded by other boats and other divers, and you genuinely feel like you have the entire ocean all to yourself. Apart from the turtles, manta rays, sharks and coral reefs of course.
So no matter where you head to on your round the world adventure, there are plenty of amazing underwater sites to get your diving fill, so get out there, check your oxygen tank and start diving!
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This article was written in association with Sipadan.com. Any views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.